Brussels’ government is the latest authority to introduce tighter regulation of the shared mobility sector. Safety and accessibility are the guiding principles behind the new measures.
The decree was proposed by Brussels Mobility, the regional transport administrator, and has now been approved by the city’s representatives, which sets in motion a series of measures, starting this summer. There will also be a transition to a new operator management framework in January 2024.
The shared mobility framework will cover shared transportation in its many guises, including bicycles, motor scooters, and scooters.
1. A balanced approach
Emphasising the delicate balancing act between offering a convenient shared mobility menu and protecting the urban space for all those in it, one of the foundations of Brussels Mobility’s thinking is to ensure safety and accessibility for other public space users, particularly pedestrians and those with limited mobility.
Manageable numbers of scooters and the importance of sustainable practices have now been recognised as a valuable part of the solution.
2. Reduced scooter numbers
The plan’s approval confirms that a massive 12,000-scooters will be taken out of circulation, with scooter numbers in Brussels dropping from the current 20,000 to a cap of 8,000.
A stricter system will see just two self-service scooter operators licensed by the city by January 2024. Part of the judging criteria for the tender includes how well the providers show they meet expectations around parking and road safety regulations, as well as their green credentials.
Alongside the changes to the scooter market, the tender will set a limit of 7,500 bikes across three shared bike services. Two cargo bike operators will also be allowed a total of 300 vehicles, and two companies will make a maximum of 600 motor scooters available.
3. Other measures
Rising scooter numbers have been shown to accompanied by surges in accidents. Brussel-based scooter users have already been targeted in spring 2023 by an awareness campaign to improve e-scooter safety. Since poorly-placed scooters create an obstacle in the urban space, 1000 designated scooter parking zones with around 3,000 spots were announced at the same time.
Cities around the world have had trials and experiments with scooters, where customers have effectively been charged while acting as a test bed for profit-making scooter companies. With a scooter ban in Paris, and controls in place elsewhere, it seems that local and national authorities are at last getting to grips with the regulation necessary to manage a safe shared mobility space.